SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Monday gave new life to a patent dispute between the world’s two largest biotechnology companies, reinstating Genentech Inc.’s lawsuit against Amgen Inc.
The two companies are fighting over technology vital to Thousand Oaks-based Amgen’s infection-fighting drug Neupogen, which had $1.3 billion in sales last year.
U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup had earlier thrown out Genentech’s claims that Amgen had infringed on three of its patents covering the genetic engineering of bacteria to produce human proteins, which is how Neupogen is manufactured.
On Monday, the appeals court ordered Alsup to reconsider Genentech’s infringement claim.
It’s still possible that Alsup could once again rule in Amgen’s favor. Nonetheless, Genentech hailed the appeals court ruling as a victory.
“We are very pleased with this decision,” said South San Francisco-based Genentech spokeswoman Sabrina Johnson. “It allows us to move forward with our infringement case against Amgen.”
Thousand Oaks-based Amgen spokesman Jeff Richardson said the company had “just received the decision” and would have no immediate comment.
With a market capitalization of about $54 billion, Amgen is the world’s largest biotechnology company. Genentech is second with a market capitalization of nearly $19 billion.
Amgen’s shares fell $1.96, or 3.6 percent, to close at $51.88 in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market Monday. Genentech’s share price lost 25 cents to close at $35.50 on the New York Stock Exchange. Both share prices were unchanged in after hours trading.